Ferrets are strictly carnivorous animals , just like cats. This means that they must obtain their energy from proteins of animal origin and fat and are unable to digest large amounts of carbohydrates. Dog feed is not suitable for ferrets because its composition is deficient for them, even those of very good quality.
Until a few years ago there were no feeds formulated specifically for ferrets, but now we have a few brands that facilitate the task of feeding them. Always look in the container for the list of ingredients instead of the percentages of each nutrient. The ingredients must be ordered in descending order, that is, the most abundant first. For a food to be good for a ferret, the first three ingredients must be of animal origin . Surely afterwards it includes corn or some sweetener, but these should be in the least amount possible in the diet that ferrets eat. The fibers should not exceed 3%; Ferrets can not digest it in their short intestine and an excess causes gastroenteritis.
Editor’s Recommendation : 3 Best Ferret Food
What Can Ferrets Eat
What should a well-balanced ferret feed contain ?:
- Between 30 and 35% of protein from animal meat , not from meat waste such as blood, legs, spikes or urine.
- A 15 to 20% fat.
- At most 4% fiber.
Remember that water is essential and you should always have it at your disposal . When changing food, do it progressively to avoid digestive problems.
Analyze especially the first five ingredients ; You should not find any type of fruits or vegetables there and the corn or rice should appear in fourth or fifth place. The fruits and vegetables are not part of what they eat because ferrets do not digest and can cause an intestinal blockage, so you should never give them.
Pay attention also to the goodies . Most are made from grains, fruits, vegetables and sugar, something totally inappropriate for ferrets. If you are going to give one of these treats to your pet, try not to overdo it, in the same way that you would not give a child an excessive amount of chocolate. A healthier option that ferrets can eat are pieces of raw meat suitable for human consumption, or liver or heart, even some egg or, if you tolerate it, a mouse. The most perfect diet that ferrets eat are whole dams. You can get mice or frozen rats that are used to feed carnivorous reptiles, but few people agree to give this type of food to their pets for an aesthetic issue or difficulty to get it or store it.
It is also recommended to supplement the diet for ferrets with cooked meat. Raw meat can contain harmful bacteria and parasites, so it is always advisable to cook food before giving it to our pets. It is ideal to give your ferret some chicken, including skin, liver, fat, heart, etc. Think that in the wild they would hunt an animal and eat it whole. It is even good to let them nibble on some bones , because they get excellent nutrients from the bone marrow, as well as entertain these restless little ones. However, avoid bird bones, as they splinter easily and can cause serious injuries to the digestive tract.
It is important to emphasize that ferrets must have a dish with food and fresh water available 24 hours a day . They usually eat small portions several times a day (up to 10 times a day!). This is because your digestive system can process little food each time and its high metabolism requires frequent meals to get enough energy. The feed for ferrets is spoiled very fast, so you have to control every day that everything is in good condition. The water must be in heavy dishes or subject to the ferrets cage that can not be tipped over or in bottles with a spout .
We will never tire of repeating that a proper diet is essential to achieve a harmonious growth and maintain the health of any pet. If you worry about achieving a balanced nutrition you will avoid many visits to the vet and you will have a happier ferret.
- Food of different textures
- Healthy snacks and treats
- Nutritional supplements
- Complete feed ( JR FARM , Lolo Pets , Cunipic Superpremium …)
- And if you want to give an extra contribution of energy and vitamins, bet on the fortifying and restorative supplement Anima Strath .
5 Ferret Food Reviews
Premium ferret diet (7 lb bag) by Marshall
Because there are differences between how older and younger ferrets digest food, it can be difficult to find ferret food for ferrets of all ages without needing to purchase it directly from an animal hospital, which can be costly.
Fortunately, Marshall’s premium ferret diet is designed for ferrets of all ages, which makes it possible to feed ferrets of all ages. Given how rare this is, it is one thing that makes the premium ferret diet more valuable than other ferret food. Another thing that makes the premium ferret diet rise above other ferret food in value is that it comes in various amounts. Being available in 4, 7, or 32 pound bags, you’ll have a lot more control over how much ferret food you have on hand.
There is one glaring aspect of the premium ferret diet that does need to be mentioned, however. This is the fact that it needs to be somewhat moist for ferrets that are 6 to 11 weeks old. Ferrets that are older than 12 weeks can be fed the premium ferret diet directly, but you will need to make some modifications for younger ferrets and this can be troublesome.
Select chicken formula by Marshall
A major issue with a lot of ferret food is that it is not very flavorful. This can cause ferrets to refuse to eat it.
This is especially true when it comes to ferret food that is designed for all ages. While it is very nice that it is designed for all ages, this means nothing if it turns ferrets away from it. Marshall’s select chicken formula addresses this issue by including chicken in their formula. This makes it much more flavorful to ferrets than other kinds of ferret food, and it will ensure that any given ferret will be attracted to it.
If you have ferrets that have had trouble eating in the past or who have trouble gaining weight, you will get a lot out of Marshall’s select chicken formula. Unfortunately, the select chicken formula comes in a pellet like shape. This means that younger ferrets will not be able to digest it correctly if they consume it in its dry form. It will need to be moistened a little bit in order to feed it to your ferrets that are 6 to 11 weeks old.
While this does not really affect the flavor of other ferret food from Marshall, it can certainly affect the flavor of their chicken formula. This process could make the formula a little less flavorful.
ZuPreem ferret food
A common issue with certain ferret food is that it can cause digestion issues in ferrets. This is because a lot of common ferret food brands contain fillers that sometimes will not completely satisfy a ferret’s hunger.
ZuPreem’s ferret food solves this issue by not containing fillers. It does not contain corn or fishmeal which are preservatives that can disrupt a ferret’s digestive system. This will satisfy the hunger of most ferrets who eat it, which will also solve digestion issues because they will not be eating so much. This is perfect if you do not have the time to feed and take care of your ferrets constantly. With ZuPreem’s food, all you will need to do is feed your ferrets one or two times and their hunger will be completely satisfied.
ZuPreem’s ferret food is not like most ferret food in that it does contain ingredients that you will need to work with. Feeding your ferrets ZuPreem’s food directly might not yield the best nutrition for your ferrets. However, if you mix it with different kinds of ferret food, it will satisfy their hunger as well as provide quality nutrition for them.
Also, because ZuPreem’s ferret food does not contain so many preservatives, it does not last as long as other brands. This is something else you should keep in mind.
Advanced nutrition diet by Wild Harvest
It can be very tricky to find what the perfect nutrients are when it comes to food for small animals, and ferret food is no exception.
While other brands of ferret food contains nutrients that are generally safe for your ferret, Wild Harvest’s advanced nutrition diet contains high quality protein that ferrets thrive on. This ensures that your ferrets health is optimal.
Another good aspect of Wild Harvest’s advanced nutrition diet is that it contains taurine. A chemical that is not found in a lot of ferret food products, this makes Wild Harvest’s advanced nutrition diet much more valuable than other brands of ferret food. There are a couple of things that you should watch for when it comes to Wild Harvest’s advanced nutrition diet. First, the food pellets are quite large. It can be difficult for smaller ferrets to eat.
You will also need to mix Wild Harvest’s advanced nutrition diet with a different kind of ferret food. Most ferrets may not want to eat the food in Wild Harvest’s nutrition diet on its own, and you should be aware of this.
Premium ferret food with chicken by Kaytee
Most ferret food is oddly shaped and it can be difficult for some of your ferrets to eat, especially younger ones. This can cause them to not eat when they are supposed to eat, and it can be troublesome.
Different than most other ferret food brands, Kaytee’s ferret food is shaped in a way that any ferret can eat without much difficulty, even young ones. The texture will keep your ferrets eating and not stop until they are full.
You do not see this kind of thing happen with other kinds of ferret food and it is not only important for your ferret but necessary for them. If your ferrets struggle to eat other kinds of ferret food, then the superior texture of Kaytee’s ferret food will get them to eat. As good as the texture of Kaytee’s ferret food is, you need to be very aware of one particular ingredient in it that could possibly give your ferrets insurmountable issues. This ingredient is a pea-based ingredient that can cause your ferrets to develop kidney stones.
If you are interested in feeding this kind of food to your ferrets, you might need to check in with your veterinarian from time to time to see if your ferrets are in danger of developing kidney stones.
What your ferret should not eat
This section is very important. If we provide our pet with a meal that can not be processed correctly, we will greatly affect his health. Among the foods that a ferret can not digest are:
- Raw or fresh fish: The fish contains an enzyme known as thiaminase, which destroys vitamin B1 or thiamine.
- Cow’s milk: Because it can not tolerate lactose. The milk will cause diarrhea and stomach pains.
- Corn: They can not digest it well.
- Onion: This can cause anemia due to its high disulfide content.
- Meat should never be served raw.
- You must not eat human foods. The condiments can seriously affect the health of ferrets.
- You can not eat bones because they can affect your digestive system.
- Sweets can not be consumed by ferrets . They cause dental problems and produce diabetes.
- Chocolate is extremely dangerous. Due to its high content of theobromine can cause heart attacks, vomiting, diarrhea and irreversible coma states.
How often a ferret eats
It is appropriate that your ferret enjoys three to four small meals a day, although it will depend on the age of your ferret. Young ferrets are more active so they may need between five or six meals since they burn more energy. Older ferrets may have health problems and will require continuous access to food.
Young people with more energy can eat 5 to 6 times a day, normal is 3 to 4.
It is important that you remove the fresh food after an hour so that it does not spoil, the dry food can last longer. Some ferrets may have the habit of hiding food leftovers , another reason for you to be careful to remove it. You can provide a space inside his cage that is easily accessible for your ferret to “hide” the remains there, he will feel fulfilled and you will avoid bad smells or other surprises.
Create a “hiding place” for your ferret to keep food leftovers, remember to remove fresh food after an hour.
Alternative feed not specific for ferrets
Ferret food must have at least 40% animal protein . Therefore, it is recommended that you give your ferret specific feed for ferrets (you will find our recommendations at the end of this post). Failing that, you can also give food for cat puppies, although it should be the last resort. Cat pups have ferret- like nutritional requirements when they are under development. If so, we recommend the feed for Mastery kittens because it is of excellent quality. We emphasize that it is not the optimal diet for mustelids.
The only think that can be more or less adapted to a ferret’s diet is the kitten feed.
The meat for ferrets
Ferrets are not scavengers so their body is adapted to eat fresh meat. They are animals prepared to digest eggs and raw meat as long as it is freshly hunted. It would be appropriate to feed our ferret from time to time with live prey or whole pieces (such as mice or rabbits). They can be bought frozen. We understand that many people have a certain sensitivity towards this issue (we also) and do not want to give their ferrets whole bodies. Anyway it is recommended to give meat from time to time , too often it will not be good for him but the absence of meat is also not positive. In case your ferret does not want to eat the meat you can warm it up a bit simulating body temperature of the dam.
Sudden changes in your ferret’s food can cause digestive problems or other disorders. It is recommended to give a ferret a variety of foods and flavors when he is young to get used to various diets, tolerate them and like them! Sometimes a ferret accustomed to a single meal can be something picky to try new things, it is your responsibility to get him to get used to and enjoy a healthy diet.
Try to accustom your ferret to changes in diet and a healthy diet.
If your ferret does not currently have a balanced diet, it is probably very difficult for you to change your eating habits. We advise you to do it for much effort that it costs you , your health will thank you in the long run. Try to “cheat” him little by little by mixing the current food with healthy food, increasing the proportion of the appropriate food more and more. You can help yourself with prizes to camouflage the taste of the new food but remember that it is a transitory measure, not forever! Be patient and stand firm to get the change!
To change the food of a ferret mix the current with the new one and increase the proportion little by little.
Ferret food supplements
Ferret feed may include other elements apart from protein. Sometimes it contains fiber to help you digest, taurine and vitamins.
If you see your ferret weak or lacking in energy you may consider it appropriate to give your ferret vitamin supplements . We recommend that you consult your veterinarian first. Supplements are not necessary for a healthy animal. In the case that your veterinarian agrees we recommend the vitamins of the Cunpic brand . They have a basic Cunpic liquid vitamin , the Cunpic Omega Vital supplement , the Cunpic Vita Serum . Your veterinarian will tell you which one is appropriate if appropriate.
Check with your veterinarian before giving your ferret extra vitamins.
Other reinforcements that you can give your ferret are salmon oils , which are rich in Omega and at the same time act as a reward.
Special feeds can also help you to help your intestinal transit, your skin or your respiratory system. Remember, always subject to the recommendations of your veterinarian.
Obviously, your ferret must have access to water at all times . Put a bowl of water inside his cage when you’re not at home, he will get used to drinking there. You can also have a dish with water in the dining room to drink while camping freely or a double plate with food and water . Remember to change the water regularly in case it does not run out.
Not all ferret food is the same, and if you are interested in raising healthy ferrets that will live a long and fruitful life, you will need to know what kind of food is best for them. You will need to know if the texture is right for your ferret, and you will need to know if the nutrients in the ferret food you intend to acquire will contribute positively to your ferret’s health. Some ferrets that are very young will require certain ferret food to be moist before consuming it. You must know which kinds of ferret food brands require this.
It is also possible that some ferrets can be turned away from food that may not be flavorful, which can cause them to turn away from it. You must be aware of this as well. And last but not least, understand what goes into certain ferret food and how this might possibly affect your ferret.
Learn about more brands and packages of ferret food than just the ones listed above. The more you know, the longer you will be able to enjoy life with your ferret or group of ferrets.
If you do not find these feeds for ferrets where you live, you can still use a Premium food for baby kittens and supplement it with fresh foods and a supplement of fatty acids and vitamins. The economic feeds for cats do not contain enough fat and the proteins are not of good quality, therefore they are not recommended for ferrets . What you save in food you will pay in bills from the veterinarian and your pet will suffer some degree of malnutrition or disease.
It is being studied if the high incidence of insulinomas (pancreatic beta cell tumors) that suffer from pets is due to excessive carbohydrate content in the diets that ferrets eat (these should not exceed 34% of the total). The digestion of these nutrients constitutes an overload for the pancreas that could lead to the hypertrophy and tumor degeneration of this organ. This mechanism has not been scientifically proven, but it has been seen that the incidence of this type of tumor has increased in countries where more feed and fewer natural diets are used.
Another option is foods formulated for minks or foxes , but these are not always available and are usually sold in very large sacks for hatcheries.
Dr. Isabel Iglesias